River police cuts are 'a threat to east London'

By Rob Virtue on February 11, 2013 12:02 PM |

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East Londoners face having an unguarded river if the latest police cuts go through, according to MP Jim Fitzpatrick.

The Wapping-based Marine Policing Unit is facing a reduction of 40 per cent in its funding, which the Member of Parliament for Poplar and Limehouse said would put lives at risk.

The river police currently have a 24-hour response team for incidents and also continuously patrol the Thames in crafts such as RIBs.

Mr Fitzpatrick said he was concerned with the proposed cuts to the service.

"The most worrying proposal is the end to night-time patrols," he said.

"This will leave 14 miles of the River Thames un-policed at night. The public need to be consulted on these proposals before they are implemented through the back door in April."

The MP has already called on the Government to step in and protect the river service.

The MPU carries out security patrols and also respond to emergencies such as people falling into the river.

Mr Fitzpatrick said slashing services would be a security risk and would be particularly bad at a time when the river was increasingly being used for major events.

"Taking an axe to our oldest police unit will severely undermine security on the Thames," he said.

"The marine unit played a key role in the Olympics and Jubilee Pageant. When the next big event comes around the threat level will be the same but with these cuts the level of protection on the river won't be."

The Met has said the Marine Policing Unit would "share budget reductions" but refused to be drawn on details of the plans.